March 1, 2010, 3:22 PM, Central Time Zone, GMT

Inside the ship

-

Everyone startled as the weapon in Sutter's hand made a peculiar sound. At the same instant, a bright yellow light on the far wall began pulsing on and off, and the silence was shattered by the blaring, punctuated bursts of some sort of alarm. The lights came on. The door behind Jack and the others opened. And there stood a figure whose presence caused Sutter's and Holcomb's mouths to drop open in shock.

'You know who I am, then,' the man said, stepping forward. He extricated the weapon from Sutter's grasp and tossed it to someone standing in the doorway. 'I'm told these things can be switched off, if they're within range of the ship. Good thing, too, if you ask me.'

'Who are you?' Holcomb asked darkly, reaching for a nearby soldier's side-arm.

'I am exactly who I appear to be,' the man said, glaring down into Holcomb's eyes. He was a good half-a-head taller than either Holcomb or Sutter. 'And if you so much as put your hand on that soldier's gun, you'll find yourself living in a ten-by-six cell for a very long time.'

'But . . . how?' Sutter choked in thwarted malice. 'And how did you get in here?'

The man smiled, and gestured to a small form standing framed in the door, who stepped forward and joined him.

Jack, Mike, Arley and the others stared.

'You!' Jack blurted, unable not to smile. 'I remember you! We thought you were dead! You must be Mialla, Yelina and Kiko's friend.'

'There were three ejected from the ship when it crashed,' the man said. 'All three were a bit bruised and battered, but no one was killed.'

'But- the bodies!' Holcomb spluttered.

'There were no bodies,' the man told him. 'That was just a diversion, to keep all of you preoccupied while my office and I got things sorted out.'

'Yeah, but, who are you?' Carly asked, innocently.

After a moment's throat-clearing, Arley told her. 'This man is the Prime Minister. Of Canada.'

Carly gaped and went very red, her mouth a silent, "Oh."

The Prime Minister glared at Holcomb and Sutter and shook his head. 'What a pair of creeps! I should have you both locked up for good!' He turned to Jack. 'You're here about the little one, aren't you.' It was a statement.

'Is she still alive?'

The Prime Minister considered Jack a long moment. 'I'm not going to lie to you; she's not in very good shape. The doctors here tell me it's not the injuries she received in the crash. The physical injuries they can fix, up to a point. It's the emotional injury done to her . . . she won't hang on unless something is done about that, and soon.'

'Her mother?' Jack said, dreading the answer.

'Dead,' the Prime Minister told him very quietly. 'She died in the crash. I'm very sorry.'

-

'Yelina?' Jack took her hand, and swallowed in a dry throat, feeling how cold it was. 'Yelina . . . baby girl . . . please, wake up.'

Yelina opened her eyes, and looked at Jack in wonder. 'Are you crying?'

'Of course I am!' he choked. 'You're the most important thing to me in the whole wide world!' He lost it then. 'Oh, Yelina! I can't lose you!'

Tears welled in the little blonde girl's eyes. 'You still want me? After I stole the car, and . . . everything?'

'I don't care about the damned car!' he choked. 'I only care about you. I just want you to get better, and come home!'

She stared, as though she'd never heard the word before. 'Home?'

'Yes, home!' he told her. 'Home, with Arley for a mom, and me for a dad, and Carly for a sister and Jason for a brother!'

'And Boom-Boom Kitty!' Carly blurted impatiently, pushing through them to the side of the bed.

'You brought my kitty!'

''Course I brought him! He's been sitting in the front window every day and all night, waiting for you to come home!'

She was too weak to sit up, but Arley helped her into a sitting position so she could hold Boom-Boom Kitty.

'We've got some more surprises for you,' the Prime Minister told her with a broad smile.

'Mialla!'

The missing girl went to her and the two embraced. And then, Yelina blurted, 'Grapes!'

'Oh-my-God!' Jack and Mike blurted together.

'None other!' Don Cherry said with a broad smile. 'They told me you weren't doin' too good, so I thought I'd better come an' see you. Actually,' he said, giving Yelina a big wink, 'I wuz just foolin', so's I could get a look at the inside of this ship o' yours!'

'I got your picture, an' your posters, an' everything!'

'We-ll,' he drawled, 'an' now I want something in return!'

'What's that?' she asked suspiciously, seeing the humorous glint in his eye.

'I want you to get better,' he said, becoming serious. 'Look, kiddo, you might not know it, but millions of kids are depending on you. They look up to you, you know. You're famous, now, and when you're famous, well, that comes with a lot of responsibility. With kids, it's "monkey-see, monkey-do".' He sighed, sat on the side of her bed, and for a moment he suddenly looked very old. Old and tired. 'I know what it's like. I know what it's like to lose someone you love very much. And I know what it feels like when they're suddenly gone, and all of a sudden, nothing feels right any more . . . and it feels like nothing's ever going to be all right, ever again.' He smiled, then, a boyish smile that made him suddenly look young again. 'But kid, when you got people who love you, who stay up at night worrying about you, and who die a thousand times when they think you've been hurt . . . honey, when you got that, as bad as you've been hurt, you're going to get through it. And when you're surrounded by friends, friends who see you for the person you really are, and who see past all your faults, why . . . then, you're the luckiest person in the whole wide world!'

He smiled, then. 'And now, seein' as how you're awake, we've got a little surprise for you! Bring it in, ladies!'

Two of the ship's crew wheeled in a large screen and set it at the foot of Yelina's bed. They turned it on, and Yelina stared in wonder!

'Look, Boom-Boom Kitty! It's our band! And there's Matthew! He's playing drums for me!'

'I don't understand,' Holcomb grumbled, where he and Sutter stood at the back of the room. 'How can this be happening? They're aliens!'

Hearing him, the Prime Minister turned around. In the background they could hear the concert starting up. 'Actually, they're not.'

'What? What are you talking about?'

The Prime Minister nodded towards a clock on the wall. 'Look familiar?'

'It's just a clock,' Sutter said. 'So what?'

'That's right,' the Prime Minister told him. 'A clock. Just like ours.'

'What? That can't be!'

'The time . . .' Holcomb muttered. 'The time is the same as ours . . . but it says GMT. Greenwich Mean Time . . . I don't understand!'

'This ship was towed into a Time Portal at 10:13 AM, Greenwich Mean Time, around thirteen million years in the future. By some miscalculation, the times were identical, but the location around the planet wasn't. The clocks, all over this ship, are set to Greenwich Mean Time as it will be around thirteen million years from now.'

'But- but that means-'

'It means that these people are not only not aliens,' the Prime Minister told them, 'but they are our future. Doubly so, because the earth was destroyed in a collision with a rogue planet from another solar system, shortly after they entered the Time Portal.'

Seeing their crestfallen looks, Satu approached the two and said, 'In thirteen million years, we didn't even make it to the stars. Oh, we sent out a number of probes, some of which lasted the hundreds of years it took to get to their destinations . . . but no human being, I'm afraid, will ever set foot on another world circling another star. Science has limitations. The inability to surpass the speed of light is one of them.

'But,' she added pointedly, 'in thirteen million years, a rogue planet will collide with Earth. We didn't have time enough, after this body was discovered hurtling towards the Earth, to save ourselves. But you, gentlemen . . . you have all the time in the world, if you put your minds to it.'

Sutter and Holcomb exchanged a long look, and said nothing for several long minutes. At last, Holcomb broke the silence.

'Well, I guess any technology you have will come in handy after all- as a starting point. That is, if you'll have us.'

Sutter sighed, deeply, and said very quietly and sadly, 'You must think me something of a monster.'

'I think,' Satu told him thoughtfully, 'that you're a man who needs some sort of mission in life, and that you chose badly.' She shrugged. 'But I don't think that any man who can feel regret is a bad man at heart. I won't hold it against you.'

-

Crying tears of happiness as she held Boom-Boom Kitty and waved at the camera and heard the roar go up from the crowd in response, Yelina said into the microphone Carly held for her, 'Oh, wow! This has got to be the best day of my life! I lost my mom, and I thought my life was over . . . by I got a mom again, and a dad, and a house to live in, and a brother and a sister and all my friends, and Boom-Boom Kitty-' a roar went up from the crowd as she held up Boom-Boom Kitty for the camera. 'An' I've got all of you! You're my friends, too . . . each and every one of you!'

She became quiet and thoughtful then. 'And my friend Grapes is here, and the Prime Minister . . . and . . . and I learned something very important:

'I learned that there's a dark place we can all fall into, that's just waiting to get each and every one of us. But I've learned . . . that things can be very confusing, and that sometimes, when you listen to your heart . . . there are times when your heart can be wrong . . . when it can tell you to go to that dark place, instead of to the light.

'I read somewhere that without the dark, there can be no light, and maybe that's true . . . but I've learned that the dark is not a good place to be . . . that there's nothing there . . . no friends, no family, no people who care about you, no . . . people . . . that you love more than anything else in the whole wide world.

'So . . . all I can say, is . . . go to the light . . . always go to the light. I know that's where I'll be from now on.'

Jack and Arley could see that she was becoming sleepy. They tucked her into bed, and sat with her as she drifted off, a half-smile on her lips. Meanwhile, Boom-Boom Kitty thundered to life.

And then, they began to sing-

"Come fly away, Co-me fly a-way with me-e-e-e!

Come fly away, Co-me fly a-way with me-e-e-e!

What new worlds of wonders, do you think we'll see?

How far will you trust me? Will you come with me-e-e-e?"

"Come fly away, Co-me fly a-way with me-e-e-e!

Come fly away, Co-me fly a-way with me-e-e-e!

Place your hand in my hand, I won't let you fall!

Lets fly through the Heavens, let's answer the call!"

"Let's ride the rocket, ride the rocket, ride the ro-cket!

Let's ride the rocket, ride the rocket, ride the ro-cket!

To the stars! To the heavens and back,

See the stars? See the galaxy spinning,

Spinning on its track, oh,

What do you see-e-e-e?

What do you see-e-e-e?

How do you fe-el?

Is it all real? Oh,

Let's ride the rocket, ride the rocket, ride the ro-cket!

Let's ride the rocket, ride the rocket, ride the ro-cket!

"Come fly away, Co-me fly a-way with me-e-e-e!

Come fly away, Co-me fly a-way with me-e-e-e!

The new worlds of wonders, do you realise?

The new worlds of wonders, are stars in your eyes!"

"Come fly away, Co-me fly a-way with me-e-e-e!

Come fly away, Co-me fly a-way with me-e-e-e!

We'll both go together, we'll go, you and I!

We'll fly through the Heavens! We'll fly through the sky!"

"Let's ride the rocket, ride the rocket, ride the ro-cket!

Let's ride the rocket, ride the rocket, ride the ro-cket!

To the stars! To Heaven and beyond!

See the stars? See the Great Beyond? Oh,

What do you see-e-e-e?

What do you see-e-e-e?

How do you feel?

Is this for real? Oh,

Let's ride the rocket, ride the rocket, ride the ro-cket!

Let's ride the rocket, ride the rocket, ride the ro-cket!"

"Come fly away, Co-me fly a-way with me-e-e-e-e-e!

Come fly away, Co-me fly a-way with me-e-e-e-e-e!

With me-e-e-e-e-e!

With me-e-e-e-e-e!

With me-e-e-e-e-e!"

Here ends Boom-Boom Kitty

. . . maybe